Trending December 2023 # Best Web Hosting & Domain Hosting Services For Your Websites # Suggested January 2024 # Top 14 Popular

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Best Web Hosting & Domain Hosting Services For Your Websites

Keeping such complications in mind, we have reviewed and compiled a few best web hosting services which are trusted worldwide and are the best performers in web hosting and domain hosting services.

How We Selected The Best Web Hosting Service For You?

We conducted surveys to rank out the top 100 web hosting services.

We signed up with the top shortlisted web hosting plans offered by the best hosting services.

We set up and configured a blank WordPress theme-based website.

We monitored their performance, such as speed, downtime, and uptime.

We randomly checked their features, plans, pricing limitations, and customer support.

We identified the top 5 and top 10 web hosting services for review.

Best Web Hosting Services 2023 1. Highest Unlimited Hosting – HostGator Cloud ($2.99/mo)

HostGator Cloud Pros:

Good Uptime (99.98%)

Fast Load Time (0.43ms)

VPS hosting starting at $19.95 /mo

Shared hosting starting at $2.75 /mo

WordPress hosting starting at $5.95 /mo

Reseller hosting starting at $19.95 /mo

Dedicated servers starting at $119 /mo

Cloud hosting starting at $4.95 /mo

No Bandwidth/Storage Limit

Unlimited Email Accounts

FREE Site Migration (1)

Free SSL Included

Higher Renewal Cost

Get it here

2. Best Uptime Hosting – Bluehost ($2.75/mo)

Bluehost Pros:

Free Domain Name

Best Uptime (99.99%)

Fast Load Time (0.41ms)

Cheap “Intro” Cost ($2.75/mo)

Fast Support (Live Chat and Phone)

30-Day Money-Back Guarantee

Easy to Use and Signup

Free SSD and Free SSL

Bluehost Cons:

No Free Site Migrations

Also Read: Beginner’s Guide to Start a Blog in 2023

3. Best at WordPress Support – SiteGround ($3.95/mo)

SiteGround Pros:

Very Good Uptime (99.99%)

Fast and Knowledgeable Support

Shared hosting starting at $3.95/mo

WordPress hosting starting at $3.95/mo

Reseller server starting at $3.50/mo

Cloud hosting starting at $80.00/mo

High-Performance WordPress Hosting

Easy to Use, includes cPanel

Free Site Migration

SiteGround Cons:

Limited Storage Space

‘Setup Fee’ for Monthly Billing

4. Cheapest Web Hosting – Hostinger ($0.80/mo)

Hostinger Pros:

Fast Load Time (0.37ms)

Cheapest Plan ($0.80/mo)

Datacenters in 7 Regions

FREE Domain Name (1 year)

VPS hosting starting at $3.95/mo

Shared hosting starting at $0.80/mo

WordPress hosting starting at $0.80/mo

Cloud hosting starting at $7.45/mo

30 Days Money Back

Uptime Guarantee

Hostinger Cons:

SSL Not Included

Also Read: 3 Best Free Blogging Platforms In 2023 (Unbiased Review)

5. Most Popular Web Host – GoDaddy ($3.66/mo)

GoDaddy Pros:

Good Uptime (99.97%)

Fast Load Time (0.52ms)

GoDaddy Economy – $2.99/mo

GoDaddy Deluxe – $4.99/mo

GoDaddy Ultimate – $5.99/mo

User-friendly website builder

cPanel-powered Linux hosting

Many Great Features

Well Known Brand

Speedy service

GoDaddy Cons:

Unreliable Support

Emails, Backups, and SSL Cost Extra

Features You Should Look For in A Web Hosting Service?

Every hosting service provider has some highlights and some lowlights which make us take a call on the selection. To ensure that you select the best web hosting service for your website, try to match these checkmarks and features offered with the services.

Loading Speed: Every page should load in a few microseconds.

Uptime Percentage: Websites are ranking 99.99% uptime and the average uptime is 99.94%.

Domain Registration: Domain registration process is taken care of by website hosting services. You just pick the domain name of your choice and check its availability.

The Scale of Resources: Hosting services are offering an unlimited amount of essential resources at a very affordable price.

Backups Frequency: Daily / Weekly website backup services are provided by best web hosting services.

Customer Support: Look for 24/7/365 Call, Chat or Email support while choosing the best website hosting services.

Security Measures: Most web hosting services offer FREE SSL certificate and protection from Malware and cyber-attacks. An eCommerce site must be PCI-compliant to safeguard secured financial transactions.

Developer-Friendly: A developer-friendly environment offered by website hosting services should support multiple versions of PHP up to the latest 7.2, chúng tôi Perl, Python, Apache and MySQL.

CMS Support: As per requirement, one should look for support with a CMS or content management system. Magento, Joomla, Drupal, PrestaShop, etc. are few of the specialized platforms.

Website Transfer: A genuine web hosting service will never charge extra to transfer your site from the previous web hosting service to a new one.

Email Accounts: A good web hosting service lets you have unlimited or a fixed number of email accounts with security spam control measures.

Site Builders: Free or a reasonable cost website building service is preferable.

Summing Up

We have researched and narrowed down the research for your ease of convenience so that you get the highest performance and your website stays live and up without any interruption. Instead of falling into traps of free domain hosting or free website hosting, let’s choose the best out of the rest.

We hope you get the best web hosting with instant domain search and domain hosting services with the tips and tricks we shared. If this article turned out to be helpful to you, please like and share this with your colleagues. For more such tips, tricks and tech-related updates visit Tweak Library and if you are more into tech-related videos do watch and subscribe to our YouTube channel. You can also reach us on Facebook and Pinterest.

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Best Web Hosting For Small Business In 2023

Best Web Hosting For Small Business in 2023

Boost your online presence with the best web hosting for small business

Funmi Looi Somoye

Looking for the best web hosting for small business? Well, you’re in the right place!

In this guide, our experts will share with you our top picks for web hosting providers that offer reliable, fast and budget-friendly services to suit any small business.

Whether you need to build a simple WordPress site, e-commerce store or custom-built site, we’ve got you covered. Keep on reading to find out more!

Products at a Glance

How we picked the best web hosting for small business

Picking the best web hosting for a small business can be confusing. But, it doesn’t have to be difficult. Here at PC Guide, we have selected the top web hosting services for any business whether you are an e-commerce store or looking for a budget option.

Our experts have carefully selected the top options by reviewing important key features such as bandwidth, storage space, uptime, security, and scalability. A web hosting platform that has a responsive, top-quality customer support service is crucial for anyone. That is why we made sure to only include options that have dedicated customer support.

Our Recommended

Best Web Hosting For Small Business in 2023



Free domain in year one

Cheap pricing options

Free website builder

Unlimited storage and bandwidth


Price jumps after renewal

HostGator is a top choice for any small business or blogger. It is especially great for content-heavy sites because HostGator offers unlimited storage with every subscription plan! Even if your site has thousands of visitors or a bunch of content – you won’t need to worry. Your HostGator website will have enough storage and bandwidth to make sure your business is always performing excellently.

Pricing plans start at an extremely attractive low price of $2.75 a month. With any plan, you’ll get unlimited and unmetered bandwidth, a free domain name in year one and a free SSL certificate. It also integrates with WordPress too and has various e-commerce tools.

HostGator is the perfect web hosting service for any high-traffic business that is looking for a low-cost subscription plan.



Free SSL and domain in year one

Inexpensive pricing plans

CDN included


no uptime guarantee

Storage limits

Bluehost is another popular affordable web hosting service. It is the perfect option if you have an e-commerce store thanks to their W00Commerce tools and YITH plugins.

Bluehost Web Hosting is a budget-friendly, flexible WordPress hosting service that comes with a bunch of features that would meet any business needs.

Plans start low at $2.95 a month providing unmetered bandwidth, 10GB of storage and a free domain in your first year. The online store packages offer great e-commerce features such as secure online payments, unlimited products and daily backups.

To summarise, Bluehost is a great option for any small business with e-commerce looking for an affordable and full-featured web hosting package.



Inexpensive plans

Excellent customer support

SSL included


No phone support

Weekly backups for the cheapest shared plans only

Hostinger is an excellent all-rounder web hosting service. This option is highly affordable thanks to their expansive shared web hosting packages.

Hostinger offers three Linux-powered shared web hosting plans called Single, Premium and Business. Plans start at $9.99 a month which drops to $3.49 if you commit to a one-year plan. Single lets you host one website, which comes with one email address, 50GB of SSD and 100GB of monthly data transfers. All of their packages also include an SSL certificate, Cloudflare protection and daily backups to name a few. Customer support is important for any business. So, you’ll be happy to hear that you’ll also get access to their high-quality customer service with a crew that is there to help you 24/7.

In summary, Hostinger is a great web hosting provider with some inexpensive plans that would appeal to any business on a budget.



Free domain name

24/7 support

Easy to build websites


Price increases after renewal

Free features only with year-long plans

GoDaddy is one of the most well-known web hosting platforms and website builders for small businesses.  They provide some of the best and most affordable site builders on the market and you don’t even have to upskill in WordPress or any other all-in-one site builder in fact.

Their plans are comprehensive and include all the features you need to get your site up and running in no time.

Web hosting subscription plans start at $5.99 a month or $49.99 for a 36-month package. If you’re also interested in their website builder packages, these cost $16.99 a month.

With any subscription with GoDaddy, you will get unmetered bandwidth, a free domain name, backups and 24/7 customer support to name a few.

All in all, GoDaddy is a well-known and trusted option for many small businesses. Despite not being particularly feature-rich, this platform is definitely one of the most user-friendly and affordable options out there.

Features and Considerations

When deciding which web hosting service to use there are a few features you should consider. To start off, you should understand your business needs. If you are hoping to build an online store you may want to opt for a dedicated package with added security features. On the other hand, if you are a business owner with high website traffic, opting for a dedicated web server may be the best option.

Additionally, it is important to consider some other key features. Some features you should look for are bandwidth, storage space, uptime, security, support, and scalability as these will ensure your website runs efficiently but is also safe from malicious attacks.

Finally, to find the right web hosting plan consider your budget and key needs. There are different types of hosting plans available, such as shared hosting, VPS hosting, cloud hosting, and dedicated hosting. Each type has its own pros and cons, so you should weigh them carefully before making a decision

If you’re looking for something different, why not check out our other software guides?

Best Time Management Tools in 2023

Best Workflow Management in 2023

Best Productivity Tools in 2023

Is there a free web hosting company?

Yes! There are a bunch of free web hosting companies that exist. Popular options are Wix, InfinityFree and ByetHost.

Our Verdict

Editor’s Choice


Shop on Amazon

Check Price 

To be honest, all four web hosting services we have outlined in this guide are perfect for any small business. Depending on your business needs and budget you’ll be able to find an outstanding package using any of these sites.

Select The Best Web Hosting Service With Webhosting Geeks

I guess one may have a different definition of “SEO web hosting” than mine (most people refer to it when talking about different C-class IPs). The way I see it is that an SEO-friendly hosting is one that provides a reliable platform for your website. That’s it.

Again, this may sounds somewhat “cliche”, but your website hosting is actually the foundation of its success. Therefore choosing a reliable hosting provider is crucial – and with such a huge range of available services in that niche choosing the optimal (the most favorable in terms of price, the feature set and reliability) solution is so hard.

We have had quite a few very solid guides on choosing the best web hosting solution so far – this one is a good example: Finding Genuine Customer Reviews to Help in Your Web hosting Choice – this post lists some of the most important factors to consider when choosing a hosting provider:



Fast Customer Support;


While the above are very essential factors to consider, there are many other things you may want to keep in mind like, for example, various specifications (bandwidth and space).

One site that makes your job of comparing hosting plans and providers easier is Web Hosting Geeks which I already shared in the post on hosting reviews linked above. The site creates handy side by side comparison charts – and you know that I love charts (and often build them myself to compare various SEO and social media tools).

The site is broken into sections:

Web Hosting Reviews

Top 10 Web Hosting

Multiple Domain Hosting

Reseller Web Hosting

VPS Web Hosting

Dedicated Server Hosting

cPanel Web Hosting

Green Web Hosting

Each section features a handy chart that allows to quickly review and choose best hosting alternatives:

Hosting provider and rating;

Core specifications (Space, Bandwidth, Price)

Bonus features (like technical support, unlimited domains, instant set-up, etc).

Note: Disclaimer for SEJ tool reviews can be found here.

Domain Name Vs Web Hosting – Difference Between Them

Key Difference between Domain and Web Hosting

A Domain name is an address of your website that Internet users type in a browser to access your website. Whereas Web hosting is a type of Internet hosting service that provides storage space to individuals or companies to make their website accessible worldwide.

Domain vs Hosting

What is a Domain Name?

A domain name is identifying texts which appear as a part of your website’s address. It depends on the domain extension you have used for your website.

A domain name is often confused with a website, yet they are two different entities. A domain name is a web address that helps you to search for a specific website. It is also described as your website name that serves as an address for other people to access your website on the Internet.

What Are the Main TLDs for Domains?

A Top-Level Domain (TLD) is the last section of a domain name or the short part which follows the dot. TLDs are also called domain suffixes.

ICANN (Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers) is responsible for managing domain names and IP addresses. ICANN categorizes TLDs as follows:

Country-code Top-Level Domains (ccTLD)

Generic Top-Level Domains (gTLD)

Infrastructure Top-Level Domains (iTLD)

Sponsored Top-Level Domains (sTLD)

Some of the most popular TLDs are:

.net – Commercial

.org – Commercial

.edu – Educational facilities like universities

.gov – For government agencies/entities

.mil – Military

What is Web hosting?

A web host is an internet hosting service that allows individuals or companies to make their website accessible worldwide. According to your budget and specifications, many hosting service providers offer various hosting services.

Web hosting is the storage and delivery of the files, which make up a website. Website files are hosted on a server that allows the website to be displayed on the Internet. We can think of web hosting as your website’s home and the domain name as the address to get there.

As web hosting services actually host your website, it is the first thing, along with a domain name, that you need before it can be built. Every website on the Internet needs web hosting.

What is the Difference Between Web Hosting and Domain?

The easiest way to understand the difference between the two is to think of them this way:

If a domain name is your house’s address, then web hosting is the actual house that the address points.

A domain name is an address forwarding service. You need to type the address of the website they wish to visit. It directly points to the IP address, which contains your website.

The main reason behind using a domain name instead of IP addresses is that names are easier to remember than long string numbers. An IP address is a series of numbers, such as This IP address points to the location on the server, which includes your website files.

So, we can say that the domain name points to your IP address, which points to your website. That way, users around the world can easily access your website by just typing your website domain name into their web browser.

How a Domain and Web Hosting Work Together For building a Website?

Domain and web hosting work hand in hand. Imagine that your IP address and the domain name act as an address of your website, and web hosting is the actual house.

Without web hosting, your websites cannot exist on the Internet. A domain name acts as a boundary to sync that points to your web hosting provider.

How a Domain Name and web hosting are co-related?

Domain names and web hosting are two different services. However, they work together to create a website. A Domain Name System (DNS) is similar to a massive address book, which is constantly updated and contains information about various domain names assigned to different entities.

There is an address of the web hosting service behind each domain name for storing the website files. Without domain names, people can not find your website, and without web hosting, you can’t build a website.

Important things to consider while selecting the Web hosting Provider:

Here are some important things you should focus on while selecting your Web hosting provider:

Customer support: Pre/Post-sales support is a vital factor, as it helps you create and maintain your website efficiently.

Pricing: You should check the pricing and plan to ensure that your company does not need to bear the burden of huge web-hosting costs.

Datacenter location: It is another important factor. Suppose you are looking to buy hosting in your country. For example, You should also opt for a hosting provider who has a data center in the UK or a nearby location like France or Germany.

Hosting Reviews: You should research the web hosting provider and check various sites’ reviews before selecting the hosting service.

Speed: Speed is very much important, especially in the early stage of your website development. If your website responds slowly, it could cost you thousands or maybe millions in lost potential sales. If you want a fast web host, you should select the web host, which meets the requirements of the core web vitals.

Important things to remember while choosing a Domain Name for Your Website:

Here are some important things you should remember while selecting a domain name for your website:

Evaluate the purpose of your website. For example, you want to create a website for your business, plan for personal use, or create a website for your organization.

The domain name should be easy to remember and not too long.

Do not buy domain names that are similar to existing sites or what we call trademarked domain names.

Avoid including numbers on domain names.

FAQ: ❓ Do I need Web Hosting if I have a Domain Name?

Yes, you need web hosting services because a domain name is just your website’s address, while web hosting is the storage that keeps all your website data. Without web hosting, your website does not have any relevance, and your domain name would point to nowhere.

👉 Do I need a Domain if I have Web Hosting?

It depends on most of the time, yes as many domain hosting providers offer a subdomain name that you can use free of cost. However, these subdomains do not make your site look professional, and you cannot make many changes to it.

Moreover, buying a custom domain name allows your website to have its branding. It also helps your website visitors to remember your website’s name.

⚡ Can I move my Domain Name to a different Company?

Yes, you can. In most cases, generally, when you register the domain name, you own the right to use it and transfer it anywhere you want. For example, let us assume that you purchased your domain name from Bluehost and bought your hosting from Greengeeks.

Now, whenever you want to move your domain name to Greengeeks, you can easily do that as all the hosting provider gives the facility and detailed step-by-step instructions to move your domain name.

🏅 Can I move my Website to another Web-Hosting provider without changing the Domain?

Yes, but you need to own the domain name and change its settings to point it to the other web hosting company you have purchased web hosting.

You can move your website from one web host to another by just transferring your files and data. You must then edit your domain name settings and set them to your new web hosting service provider company.

🚀 Should you buy Web and Domain Hosting from the same service provider?

Yes, you can. There are two options available for you:

Option 1: Never register your important domains with your web hostIt is easy to move to a new hosting provider when you register your domain with a third party. Otherwise, you need to wait for your hosting provider to release your domain. However, this is tricky as they are also losing your hosting business.

Option 2: Buy domain and host on the same website.Many website owners do buy their domain and hosting at the same place. This is ideal, especially if you are residing your website at a reputable web hosting provider with a good business track record.

If you have already registered your domain with the hosting company, then:

You have two options.

Do nothing.

Transfer your domain name to a third-party provider.

Here is how to transfer your domain name from Blue host to Greengeeks.

Obtain the Auth/EPP code from the current domain registrar (Bluehost)

You need to submit a transfer request to the new domain registrar (Greengeeks)

However, you need to remember that as per ICANN’s Transfer of Registrations Policy, which is less than 60 days old or transferred within the last 60 days, it cannot be transferred. You have to wait at least 2 months before transferring your domain name.

💻 Are there any Free Web Hosts?

Yes, G sites offered by Google provides free and limited hosting on a fast and reliable network. This tool allows anyone to create simple web sites that support collaboration between different editors. To use this tool, you do not need any programming skills. This page provides a list of free web hosting providers.

❗ What are the types of Web hosting?

There are different web hosting services provided by web hosting companies. Here are four types that are widely purchased by website owners.

Shared Hosting: In a shared hosting plan, you share the server with other website owners. That means you share the physical server as well as some software applications with other users.

Dedicated Hosting: Dedicated hosting is a private hosting plan where you get the complete web server. Here, you are neither sharing your server nor resources. However, your purchase hosting cost will be high.

Collocated Hosting: In this hosting service, you buy your server but locate the server on the hosting provider’s premises. You will be completely responsible for your server. In these kinds of hosting plans, you also get full control and access rights.

It is the most in-demand hosting type for web apps currently in the market, as developers do not need to worry about their hosting infrastructure. The term cloud is derived from the network diagram, where a cloud symbol denotes network infrastructure.

VPS stands for Virtual Private Server. This means it is your server, but virtually there are many more VPS’s on a single machine. You can have VPS hosting packages if you want to learn server management.

Reseller Hosting: It provides the ability to host multiple domains/websites. Hosting services may be resold to other parties. Reseller hosting accounts share a server with other reseller accounts.

Managed WordPress hosting:WordPress hosting is a hosting package for people who want to build their sites on the back of the popular WordPress Content Management System (CMS) from chúng tôi Managed WordPress hosting providers know the CMS in and out so they can easily troubleshoot your WordPress problems.

How Web Hosting Can Impact Page Load Speed

As soon as Google announced that page load speed had been added to its ranking algorithms, page load speed became a buzzword in the SEO community. Unbelievably, that was over five years ago now.

The Real World Impact of Page Load Speed

While the realistic benefits of improving page load speed are sometimes overstated, there are very real benefits to speeding up your website’s pages.

SEO: Since page load speed is part of Google’s ranking algorithm, your website’s page load speed may have an impact on your Google rankings. The data on the specifics of this is confusing, though, and it seems likely that page load speed may be a very minor ranking factor.

For example, this study shows no correlation between page complete load times and Google rankings, but it did find a correlation for time to first byte. Another study also found no correlation between rankings and page load time. It seems likely that the impact of page load speed on rankings is very small, so as SEOs it’s important that we don’t present page load speed as a major factor in rankings.

UX: The impact of page load speed on users is likely much greater than its impact on Google rankings. Multiple studies have consistently documented the impact of page load speed on user experience – slow load times lead to user abandonment and decreased conversion rates. Scale does matter when discussing this benefit, though. An incremental improvement in conversion rate (which is huge for large e-retailers) may translate to a very small monetary benefit for websites with small traffic numbers.

Why Web Hosting is an Important Factor

When you browse to a website and load a webpage, you are essentially running programs on and opening files from a remote computer (the web server). The faster that remote computer is, the more quickly the webpage can be loaded. There are three basic tasks the web server has to complete:

Execute code: In many cases, the web server has to execute thousands of lines of code (for example, the PHP code that makes up WordPress) to render a single webpage. Just like opening a program on your computer takes time, it takes time to execute all this code on the web server.

Run database queries: For any CMS-based website, the website code will have to run database queries to retrieve the webpage content from a database (e.g. MySQL). A WordPress website may make 100+ database queries to render a single page.

Serve files: A typical webpage requires the web server to serve up dozens of files (images, CSS, Javascript, etc.). For example, loading the homepage of chúng tôi involves over 350 requests to the web server.

What Makes Some Web Hosting Packages Faster Than Others?

How do you pick out a web hosting package that will help improve your site’s page load speed? As it turns out, the factors that make a hosting package faster are very similar to the factors that make your own computer run faster:

Dedicated resources: The first step is to choose a hosting plan that offers dedicated resources – this keeps other websites from hogging resources (e.g. processor and memory) from your website. Instead of choosing a shared hosting plan, choose a VPS or a dedicated server.

More resources: Having more available processing power and memory means your server can execute requests more quickly. (Just upgrading from shared hosting to dedicated will usually give you significantly more available resources.)

Local resources: Having your database and other resources directly on the web server can help improve performance vs. these resources being on another server as with some shared hosting packages.

Below is an example shared hosting plan (from HostGator). Note, there are not dedicated resources (processor and memory).

Below is an example dedicated server (from KnownHost). Note that there are dedicated resources (processor and memory) but this plan doesn’t have an SSD. If you need more resources, just upgrade to a higher level.

How Much can Faster Web Hosting Improve Page Load Speeds?

Upgrading web hosting can have a significant impact on page load speed, especially for resource intensive (i.e. lots of code and database queries to execute) websites, such as Magento websites. My company recently completed a page load speed study that measured the impact of upgrading from a basic shared hosting plan to a VPS plan has on page load speed for a Magento website.

The results were dramatic – the VPS hosting offered a 62% improvement in page load speed:

Upgrading web hosting will have a smaller impact for websites that are less resource intensive or for websites that are already on relatively fast web hosting. I’ve found that upgrading web hosting has the greatest impact for Magento websites, but it delivers improvements for WordPress, Drupal, and other websites also. Upgrading web hosting can also deliver a significant speed boost if your website is loading slowly due to many users browsing the website simultaneously.

Time to First Byte

Remember the study I cited above that suggests “time to first byte” may be the page speed metric Google uses to influence rankings? Time to first byte isn’t influenced by front-end optimization tactics like minimizing Javascript or optimizing image files. This is another reason to upgrade your web hosting – a faster web server generally means a lower time to first byte.

Next time you’re optimizing a website to improve page load times, don’t stop with code optimization – consider whether you should upgrade the hosting to further improve performance!

Hacker Takes Out Dark Web Hosting Service Using Well

A hacker is proving that sites on the dark web, shrouded in anonymity, can easily be compromised.   

On Friday, the unnamed hacker began dumping a sizable database stolen from Freedom Hosting II onto the internet, potentially exposing its users.

The hosting service, Freedom Hosting II, was known for operating thousands of sites that were accessible through the Tor browser; the “dark web” is essentially the encrypted network comprising Tor servers and browsers. But on Friday, the service appeared to be down. Its main landing page was replaced with a message saying that it had been hacked.

Allegedly, Freedom Hosting II had been hosting child pornography sites, though its anonymous operator claimed to have a zero-tolerance policy toward such content, according to the hacker behind the breach.

“What we found while searching through your server is more than 50% child porn…” the hacker wrote in the message left on the site. “Moreover, you host many scam sites, some of which are evidently run by yourself to cover hosting expenses.”

 In an email to the IDG News Service, the hacker explained how the breach came about. “I just recently read an article about a well-known exploit that some hosting providers fell victims of many years ago,” the person said.

Freedom Hosting II worked as a free service that allowed anyone to sign up and create a site on the dark web. However, starting on Jan. 30, the hacker gained access to its web server, using a 20-step method.

Michael Kan

The method the hacker claims to have used. 

The hack essentially involved starting a new site on Freedom Hosting II and creating a link to gain access to the service’s root directory. This allowed the hacker to browse the entire server.

“I was just curious at first,” the person said. “I had reading permissions to everything the web server could get access to just by creating a symlink to / (the root directory).”

After coming across child porn sites, the hacker decided to take over Freedom Hosting II by altering its configuration file to trigger a password reset.

“Once I found out what they were hosting, I just wanted to shut them down,” said the hacker, who’s also been circulating what he stole through a torrent file.

The dump includes 74GB of files and a 2.3GB database from the service, the hacker claims.

“The IP of the server has been leaked, which potentially could reveal the admin’s identity,” the hacker added.

Chris Monteiro, a cybercrime researcher based in the U.K., has been looking through the data dump, which he said appears to be real. The information includes the sites that Freedom Hosting II had been operating, along with the admin credentials to access them.

The dump also appears to contain a client database, meaning that anyone who used Freedom Hosting II might be exposed, Monteiro said.

“We’re going to see emails, usernames, all of which can be used by law enforcement for prosecution of people,” he said.

In addition, the dump contains forum posts from users mentioning sex with minors, the sale of hacked internet accounts, and files that reference botnets and online scamming.

Freedom Hosting II was the largest shared hosting service on the dark web, Monteiro said. It was specifically designed for users who wanted anonymous hosting, but who lacked the know-how to set it up, he said.

However, many of the sites hosted by the service were probably small. “I doubt we’ll find any large sites operating child porn,” he said of the data dump.

According to the hacker’s message, Freedom Hosting II was responsible for 10,613 sites. However, the database dump indicates that a vast majority of those sites had only a few dozen or hundreds of user visits.

Troy Hunt, a data breach expert, said in a tweet that he noticed the database dump contained 381,000 email addresses.

“Law enforcement will absolutely have this data, it’s very public. It also obviously has many real email addresses in it,” he tweeted.

Privacy researcher Sarah Jamie Lewis has also been researching Freedom Hosting II. In October, she wrote that the service had been hosting sites that sold counterfeit documents and stolen credit card numbers, in addition to those that operated as personal blogs and web forums.

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